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Archive for December 14th, 2009

Berlusconi Bloodied by Attack

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 14th, 2009 5:48 am by HL

Berlusconi Bloodied by Attack
BBC: Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been hit in the face and knocked to the ground after a political rally in Milan. Pictures showed Mr Berlusconi, 73, with blood around his mouth and on his face. Reports suggested he had either been punched or hit with an object. Mr Berlusconi was taken to hospital. A first medical report said two teeth were damaged, with one broken. Read more READ THE WHOLE ITEM

BBC:

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been hit in the face and knocked to the ground after a political rally in Milan.

Pictures showed Mr Berlusconi, 73, with blood around his mouth and on his face. Reports suggested he had either been punched or hit with an object.

Mr Berlusconi was taken to hospital. A first medical report said two teeth were damaged, with one broken.

Read more

READ THE WHOLE ITEM

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Squaring Idealism and Realism
Europeans are coming to terms with the fact that President Barack Obama is not a miracle worker, and with the reality that everything he does is not magic. READ THE WHOLE ITEM

By E.J. Dionne

Europeans are coming to terms with the fact that President Barack Obama is not a miracle worker, and with the reality that everything he does is not magic.

READ THE WHOLE ITEM

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Obama Objects To Expanded Predator Drone Strikes In Pakistan, Newsweek Reports

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 14th, 2009 5:47 am by HL

Obama Objects To Expanded Predator Drone Strikes In Pakistan, Newsweek Reports
One person standing in the way of expanded missile strikes: President Obama. Five administration officials tell NEWSWEEK that the president has sided with political and…

Roger Hickey: Pete Peterson Teams Up with Kent Conrad to Undermine Democracy, Slash Social Security & Medicare, and Weaken Fragile Recovery.
On Monday morning, wealthy hedge fund mogul Peter Peterson and his Commission on Budget Reform will hold a press conference to issue a “Call to…

Adultery Still A Crime In New Hampshire After 200 Years
CONCORD, N.H. — The original punishments – including standing on the gallows for an hour with a noose around the neck – have been softened…

Byron Williams: No Comparison Between King’s Nobel Prize Moment and Obama’s
I found the president’s speech more reminiscent of George W. Bush than King. Though more eloquent and self-effacing than his predecessor, the macho tone of the speech was more neocon than deserving of a peace prize.

Senate Passes $1.1 Trillion Spending Bill
WASHINGTON — The Senate on Sunday passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill with increased budgets for vast areas of the federal government, including health, education,…


Quick Fact: Wallace continues to distort stolen climate emails

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 14th, 2009 5:46 am by HL

Quick Fact: Wallace continues to distort stolen climate emails

During the December 13 broadcast of Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace read excerpts from two of the emails that he claimed “were either leaked or hacked” from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, falsely suggesting that the emails may not have been stolen. Wallace also claimed that the email referring to “Mike’s Nature trick … to hide the decline” was “talking about to hide the decline in temperatures” and read a comment from another email without providing the necessary context.

Wallace falsely suggests CRU emails may not have been stolen

From the December 13 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace:

WALLACE: Gentlemen, let me bring in — ’cause I’m sure viewers are screaming at this point. They want to hear about Climategate, and they want to hear what the two of you have to say. And this of course are the hundreds of emails that were either leaked or hacked from one of the leading climate research centers in the world that happens to be in Britain. And let’s put up just two that have caused some of the greatest concern.

From 1999: “I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (i.e. from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.” He’s talking about to hide the decline in temperatures.

And from 2009: “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t. … Our observing system is inadequate.”

Fact: CRU officials have stated that emails were obtained through “a criminal breach of our security systems”

In its initial response to the reported theft, officials at the University of East Anglia stated: “Recently thousands of files and emails illegally obtained from a research server at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have been posted on various sites on the web.” In a statement about the controversy, CRU vice chancellor of research Trevor Davies stated: “We are committed to furthering this debate despite being faced with difficult circumstances related to a criminal breach of our security systems and our concern to protect colleagues from the more extreme behaviour of some who have responded in irrational and unpleasant ways to the publication of personal information.” Davies further stated, “Although we were confident that our systems were appropriate, experience has shown that determined and skilled people, who are prepared to engage in criminal activity, can sometimes hack into apparently secure systems. Highly-protected government organisations around the world have also learned this to their cost.”

Fact: “Decline” refers to unreliable tree-ring data, not actual temperatures

In a November 26 article, The Morning Call of Allentown, Pennsylvania, reported that Penn State scientist Michael Mann — whose “trick” was referenced in CRU director Phil Jones’ email — “said his trick, or ‘trick of the trade,’ for the Nature chart was to combine data from tree-ring measurements, which record world temperatures from 1,000 years ago until 1960, with actual temperature readings for 1961 through 1998” because “scientists have discovered that, for temperatures since 1960, tree rings have not been a reliable indicator.” In a November 20 post, RealClimate.org’s staff, which is comprised of several working climate scientists, including Mann, similarly stated:

As for the ‘decline’, it is well known that Keith Briffa’s maximum latewood tree ring density proxy diverges from the temperature records after 1960 (this is more commonly known as the “divergence problem”-see e.g. the recent discussion in this paper) and has been discussed in the literature since Briffa et al in Nature in 1998 (Nature, 391, 678-682). Those authors have always recommend not using the post 1960 part of their reconstruction, and so while ‘hiding’ is probably a poor choice of words (since it is ‘hidden’ in plain sight), not using the data in the plot is completely appropriate, as is further research to understand why this happens.

Fact: Trenberth’s “travesty” email referred to “inadequate” system of observing short-term variability, not long-term trend

In an October 12 email, National Center for Atmospheric Research scientist Kevin Trenberth cited “my own article on where the heck is global warming” and wrote: “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate” [emphasis added].

Fact: Trenberth published similar comments in the journal article he cited in email

Wired‘s Threat Level blog reported that Trenberth “says bloggers are missing the point he’s making in the e-mail by not reading the article cited in it. That article — An Imperative for Climate Change Planning (.pdf) — actually says that global warming is continuing, despite random temperature variations that would seem to suggest otherwise.” RealClimate.org similarly stated in a November 23 post that “[y]ou need to read his recent paper on quantifying the current changes in the Earth’s energy budget to realise why he is concerned about our inability currently to track small year-to-year variations in the radiative fluxes.” Indeed, the Trenberth article referred to what he called an “incomplete explanation” of short-term climate variations, and maintained that “global warming is unequivocally happening.”

Wallace previously claimed emails “leaked”

On the December 6 edition of Fox News Sunday, Wallace stated: “All this, of course, comes amid the growing controversy over global warming which some people are calling ‘Climategate.’ It involves more than a thousand emails that have been leaked that indicate that some of the climate scientists were apparently fudgers and tried to suppress opposition comments.”


Police Report On Jetton Incident Released

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 14th, 2009 5:45 am by HL

Police Report On Jetton Incident Released
New information has emerged about the allegations that led to felony assault charges being filed against a former top Missouri GOP pol, in connection with a November sexual encounter.

Jetton Fought To Keep Ban On Gay Sex, Calling It ‘Deviate Sexual Intercourse’
Rod Jetton, the former Missouri House Speaker accused of beating a girlfriend during a sexual encounter, long fought to maintain a ban on gay sex, or “deviate sexual intercourse” — even removing a colleague from a leadership post over the issue.

Former Bailout Czar Signs On With Firm That Helped Run Bailout
Neel Kashkari, who ran the government’s bailout program, has signed on as a managing director of PIMCO, an investment firm that was intimately involved in the rescue effort. And the potential conflicts of interest don’t stop there.


The Tattlesnake – A Stake Deep in the Heart of GOP Texas Edition

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 14th, 2009 5:41 am by HL

The Tattlesnake – A Stake Deep in the Heart of GOP Texas Edition
Judging by this, Lone Star state Republicans may have much to fear in the future. I’ve made plenty of fun of Texas and that breed of Texan that keeps electing crooks and nitwits like Tom DeLay and Junior-clone Rick Perry against their own best interests, but it seems things have gotten bad enough down there that […]


Obama Gives Himself a B-Plus

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 14th, 2009 5:40 am by HL

Obama Gives Himself a B-Plus
In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, President Obama was asked to grade himself for the year.

Said Obama: “A good solid B-plus. I think we have inherited the biggest set of challenges of any president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. We stabilized the economy… We are on our way out of Iraq. I think we’ve got the best possible plan for Afghanistan. We have reset our image around the world.”

Why only B-plus?

“B-plus because of the things that are undone. Health care is not yet signed. If I get health care passed we tip into A minus.”


The 9 Surges of Obama’s War

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 14th, 2009 5:39 am by HL

The 9 Surges of Obama’s War
The troop surge is only one part of the escalation of the Afghanistan war. Here are 8 more signs of how fully the President has committed us.

The troop surge is only one part of the escalation of the Afghanistan war. Here are 8 more signs of how fully the President has committed us.

25 Days In Federal Prison For Littering? Border Patrol Cracking Down on Human Rights Activists
Walt Staton was dropping off water jugs for people who attempt the often deadly trek into Arizona from Mexico when the Feds ticketed him for "knowingly littering."

Walt Staton was dropping off water jugs for people who attempt the often deadly trek into Arizona from Mexico when the Feds ticketed him for "knowingly littering."

U.S. Business Interests Suspected in ‘Fabricated’ Climate Scandal
The emails that have right-wingers frothing aren’t scandalous. The issue is who hacked the scientists’ computers, and what they had to gain from undermining their research.

The emails that have right-wingers frothing aren't scandalous. The issue is who hacked the scientists' computers, and what they had to gain from undermining their research.


When Regulators Can’t Do Math: Gas Pipeline Edition

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 14th, 2009 5:38 am by HL

When Regulators Can’t Do Math: Gas Pipeline Edition
The Federal Regulatory Energy Commission (the FERC) is charged – amongst other things – with regulating the rate of return on interstate natural gas pipelines. Rates on these pipelines are by-and-large regulated so as to achieve a targeted return on…



BusinessEnergyOil and GasFERCOperating Companies

Krauthammer: The Shrink Loses His Mind
I have thought Charles Krauthammer is nuts ever since (have I mentioned this before?) he attacked the rabbi on Yom Kippur for suggesting that God prefers peace to war. Chuck was bellowing from his pew, calling the rabbi names, and…

The New Frugality
David Rosenberg was Chief Economist for Merrill Lynch for many years, but I think their big corporate/institutional clients got tired of his consistently bearish warnings on the U.S. economy and so he left in the upheaval of 2009 for a…


Merrill LynchUnited StatesBusinessFinancial servicesAllegedly Unethical Firms


Fox?s ?Fair And Balanced? Debate: ?Does Climate Change Exist??

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 14th, 2009 5:37 am by HL

Fox?s ?Fair And Balanced? Debate: ?Does Climate Change Exist??
On this morning’s Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace touted his show’s “fair and balanced” bona fides by claiming he was going to host a debate on whether climate change actually exists. Promoting the conversation on its website, the official blog of the show wrote, “Does climate change exist? We’ll have a fair and balanced […]

On this morning’s Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace touted his show’s “fair and balanced” bona fides by claiming he was going to host a debate on whether climate change actually exists. Promoting the conversation on its website, the official blog of the show wrote, “Does climate change exist? We’ll have a fair and balanced debate on Fox News Sunday.”

The debate pitted prominent global warming denier, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), against the author of climate change legislation in the House, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA). When Wallace pressed Inhofe to confront the fact that the last decade has been the hottest in recorded history, Inhofe — true to form — denied the reality:

WALLACE: The fact is, just this week, the world meteorological organization said that this decade is the warmest on record, and that 2009 is the 5th warmest year on record. Does that mean nothing?

INHOFE: It means very little. Because that was based on the same flawed science — the IPCC science — that we have been looking at.

Wallace wrapped up the conversation by saying, “This is a debate that will continue.” Watch a compilation:

Fox’s presentation of a “debate” over global warming science is a classic example of the “false balance” that the traditional media often employs to discuss the issue. The media watchdog group, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, observed that the journalistic norm of “balance” has given disproportionate attention to false perspectives: “By giving equal time to opposing views, the major mainstream newspapers significantly downplayed scientific understanding of the role humans play in global warming.”

The “debate” obscures the real impacts of global warming: Arctic sea ice is at historically low levels, Australia is burning, the northern United Kingdom is underwater, and the world’s glaciers are disappearing. And of course, it’s the hottest decade in history.

Kristol: Obama?s Nobel Speech ?Lays The Predicate For The Legitimate Use Of Force? Against Iran
Since President Obama delivered his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech last week, Bill Kristol has been arguing that it is somehow in-line with his neoconservative philosophy and that it vindicates President Bush’s “global war on terror” that he wholeheartedly supported. Today on Fox News Sunday, Kristol continued with the theme, calling it “the most Bush-like […]

Since President Obama delivered his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech last week, Bill Kristol has been arguing that it is somehow in-line with his neoconservative philosophy and that it vindicates President Bush’s “global war on terror” that he wholeheartedly supported.

Today on Fox News Sunday, Kristol continued with the theme, calling it “the most Bush-like speech of his presidency” and that it “articulated his own version of the pre-emptive doctrine.” Kristol later said that it actually lays the groundwork for a preemptive strike on Iran:

KRISTOL: There’s this one sentence, “There will be times when nations – acting individually or in concert – will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.”

That’s a pretty striking statement. I mean any American president should say that who’s looking at Iran developing nuclear weapons. I think he is, it’s not just that Israel might use preemptive force against Iran. This speech lays the predicate for a legitimate use of force to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons by the U.S.

Watch it:

The problem with Krisol’s logic is that Obama’s speech outright rejected the Bush approach:

I know that engagement with repressive regimes lacks the satisfying purity of indignation. But I also know that sanctions without outreach — and condemnation without discussion — can carry forward a crippling status quo. No repressive regime can move down a new path unless it has the choice of an open door.

“The satisfying purity of indignation,” as Matt Duss noted, is “a wonderfully succinct description of the simplistic and destructive ideology that drove George W. Bush’s foreign policy, and which Bill Kristol is still trying heartily to convince himself and others hasn’t been discredited.”

Noting that Kristol and his washed-up neocon gang are increasingly turning their sights on Iran, IPS News’s Jim Lobe reminds us that, just like with the Iraq war, consequences and reality have little bearing on this new push:

Kristol doesn’t ask what may be the impact on McChrystal’s efforts [in Afghanistan] of war with Iran. There’s every reason to believe, at least at this point, that the Pentagon is probably the national-security institution most adamantly opposed to an attack on Iran — be it by Israel or its own forces — precisely because it would greatly complicate Washington’s position throughout the region. But that’s not the point. Now that Obama is committed in Afghanistan, the neo-con priority moves to Iran, with urgency.


Obama presses bank chiefs to lend more

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 14th, 2009 5:36 am by HL

Obama presses bank chiefs to lend more
President Obama, who lashed out Sunday at “fat cat bankers” who “still don’t get it,” plans to gather the heads of major banks at the White House on Monday to urge them to make more loans and to accept the necessity of greater regulation.

Democrats clear spending bill in Senate
The Senate cleared for President Obama’s signature on Sunday a $447 billion omnibus spending bill that contains thousands of earmarks and double-digit increases for several Cabinet agencies, the latest target for Republicans seeking to make growing federal deficits a focal point of the 2010…

Evan Bayh appears to be dropping national aspirations
Sen. Evan Bayh’s vote last week in favor of an amendment to the health-care bill that would have strengthened restrictions on how federal funds could be spent for abortions is the latest sign that the onetime national rising star has reached a crossroads in a political career that many expected t…

One vote by California legislator illustrates fractured state Republican Party
CLAREMONT, CALIF. — A few facts reveal just how far the Republican Party has fallen in California.